Startup Weekend DC flips the gender ratio - Technical.ly DC

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Oct. 7, 2014 10:39 am

Startup Weekend DC flips the gender ratio

For 54 hours, more than a dozen teams of makeshift entrepreneurs — 90 percent of them women — worked collaboratively to think up new companies.
Fourteen teams presented their projects after after a 54-hour hackathon at  Startup Weekend DC, Oct. 5, 2014.

Fourteen teams presented their projects after after a 54-hour hackathon at Startup Weekend DC, Oct. 5, 2014.

(Photo by Lalita Clozel)

In time for Tour de Code, Startup Weekend DC promised to flip the ratio — and it delivered.

For 54 hours, more than a dozen teams of makeshift entrepreneurs — 90 percent of them women — worked collaboratively to create the seeds of new startups.

“They’re from different walks of life and different parts of the wacommunity,” said Babs Lee, the Startup Weekend DC lead organizer. But to get them to sign up, she first had to field emails inquiring about the skill set required to participate. “I think it boils down to fear,” she said.

Still, the competition was fierce. Forty-five pitches on Friday dwindled down to 14 projects presented on Sunday, and there was only one ultimate winner (and two runner-ups).

"Seeing all these women entrepreneurs is really inspiring. And kind of awesome."
Lauren Emeritz, Startup Weekend DC participant

ForgetMeNot, a child protection device to ensure that parents don’t leave their babies unattended in a car and MoneyFit, an app to encourage better savings habits, took second and third place respectively.

The champion of the marathon was Heartful.ly, a charitable wedding registries program.

“They are tapping into a zeitgeist,” said Startup Angels founder Leslie Jump as she declared the winner, “they offered a solution in which they had direct experience in.”

Heartful.ly, which was led by Kate Glantz and Sean Shannon, will win a morning with iStrategyLabs, a two-hour strategy session with Overachiever Media, an application fee waiver from Springboard Enterprises and a pair of handmade Waveborn sunglasses each.

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There were more problem-solving projects where that came from.

Naptime promised a practical place for professionals to snooze in the afternoon, while Vagabonder offered to help millennials find the perfect travel buddy. Yoga on the Go sought to install classes in airports and MedCycle envisioned recycling single-use medical equipment.

“Seeing all these women entrepreneurs is really inspiring,” said Lauren Emeritz, who was in the Naptime team. “And kind of awesome.”

But the best part, said jury member Jennifer Lannon, a program manager for Springboard Enterprises, which funds women-led enterprises, was that men were also present. Men as minority is a good thing, she said.

For his part, Kevin Ohashi, who has half-a-dozen startup weekends under his belt, was not phased by the ratio flip. “It was very collaborative, very focused on doing good,” he said, before joining the rest of the MoneyFit team to celebrate.

The event was held at 1776 and General Assembly offices and sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton, which sent half-a-dozen coaches to assist the teams.

For more pics and projects, check out #swdcwomen.

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